Highway of Culture
“The farm to market road is to Texas what the freeway is to California: not just a highway but a symbol of the culture,” wrote Paul Burka in a 1983 Texas Monthly article. Indeed, Texas is the only state that has designated paved roadways that ensure that farms have all-weather access to markets.
The first farm to market (FM) road was initiated in the late 1930s, but construction for these roadways didn’t really take off until after World War II. According to TxDOT, the longest FM is nearly 140 miles, while the shortest is just shy of 2/10ths of a mile. Today, there are more than 3,000 FM roads totaling nearly 41,000 miles.
McKim & Creed is working with TxDOT’s Houston District to improve two FM roadways. For FM 361, which runs 7.2 miles in Fort Bend County, the agency is widening the two lanes and repairing ditches and culverts to alleviate flooding. The residents—primarily corn and cotton farmers—are thrilled that their FM road is being improved. “People are happy to have us out there,” reported Wayne McKittrick, RPLS, who is overseeing the two FM projects for McKim & Creed. “We sent out right of entry letters from TxDOT, and some people wrote ‘thank you’ on them. They are excited that TxDOT is going to improve their road.”
Improvements to 6.5 miles of FM 2978 include widening the two 12-ft travel lanes to four 11-ft lanes divided by a 16-ft-wide center turn lane. The outside shoulders will be expanded to accommodate 5-ft bike lanes, with a 4-ft sideway in various locations along the roadway.
For both projects, McKim & Creed is using aerial photography and LiDAR to pick up topographic features and create DTMs and contours, along with conventional surveying for control and right-of-way mapping.